Strong Second Half Helps Earn T-Birds a Spot in the Finals
UBC: Josh Whyte– 21 Points, 11 Rebounds NPH #3-Ranked CIS Player
Alberta: Daniel Ferguson– 30 Points NPH #5-Ranked CIS Player
VANCOUVER,BC–It was a tale of two halves. In a classic match that pitted youth against experience, the UBC Thunderbirds outlasted the Alberta Golden Bears 91-73 Friday night at the War Memorial Gym in Vancouver.
The T-Birds were confident and battle tested going into their semi-final game. However they did not go into their match-up expecting Alberta to hand them a win. The two teams split their season series with UBC taking the first game 81-76 and Alberta responding by shocking the T-Birds 88-86 during the Saturday game.
That was November, now it is March. Going into the second half of Friday’s contest, it seemed that history was set to repeat itself. The T-Birds clung to a slim 39-38 lead going into halftime as they only shot 9% (1-for-11) from 3-point range, compared to Alberta’s red hot 44% (4-for-9).
Alberta was led by Daniel Ferguson’s strong shooting performance, with 17 points in the quarter. Alberta also saw major contribution from second year guard, Kenneth Otieno, who had 10 points at the break. Last year’s Canada West Rookie of the Year, Jordan Baker, was held to 4 points on 1-for-6 shooting (17%).
The story for T-Birds was slightly different. The team was led by Canada West first team all-star, Josh Whyte, who had 16 points, however Whyte was not the only one lighting up the scoreboard, nine players found the score sheet for UBC. Melvyn Mayott had seven points.
The second half started off much the same way. The two teams traded baskets at a much higher rate than the first half. Alberta did manage to pull themselves to within two, however that was as close as they would come on this night. In the end, the experience of the T-Birds proved to be the deciding factor as they were able to capitalize off of several Alberta turnovers and pull off a 17-5 run during the third quarter which helped them pull away for good. The third Q saw UBC ahead 71-60.
The fourth quarter was of the same story. Alberta’s turnovers would prove to be their undoing, coughing the ball up a total of 23 times. UBC would outscore Alberta 27-14 off of turnovers and came up with a whopping 14 steals.
Daniel Ferguson did all he could to help his team before fouling out near the end of the fourth quarter, scoring 30 points. Jordan Baker scored only eight points on only 3-for-12 shooting and eight turnovers. Otieno finished with 12 points.
The balanced effort that UBC put forth in the first half continued in the second, with five players reaching double digits in scoring. Josh Whyte finished the game with a double-double, scoring 21 points and pulling down 11 rebounds. Brent Malish and Alex Murphy each potted 17 points a piece, Melvyn Mayott finished with 13 and Nathan Yu had 10.
“We were a little over roused to start the game,” UBC head coach Kevin Hanson said. “Once we settled down at halftime the guys relaxed a little more.
The win puts UBC in tomorrow nights final against the winner of Saskatchewan and Trinity Western. That game will be played at 8:00 p.m. at UBC. Alberta will face the loser in the Bronze Medal match-up. That goes down